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Hadrian's Wall charity walk - the story by avi13765

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									Hadrian’s Wall charity walk – the story
Our intrepid travellers have recently returned from their walk to raise money for cancer
charities in Derby. So how did they get on? Jackie gives us the low-down on their
adventure as they try and conquer Hadrian’s Wall.

18 May – The official wave off from Queen’s Leisure Centre
We met at 10.30am, ready to meet the Mayor. It was great to know that some people had
taken time out of their Sunday to see us off and we all appreciated the wonderful send off
given. Excited, but also nervous about the journey ahead of us, a million and one questions
were going through our heads. Were our bags too heavy? Would the weather be atrocious
or the accommodation not up to scratch? Most importantly, would we actually get to the
end in one piece?




      Photo 1 – ‘Wave off’ from Queen’s         Photo 2 – Onboard entertainment

After words of encouragement from the Mayor, family and friends we set off by car to
Birmingham train station. The train ride was good fun which kept our spirits high. The first
train to Preston was spent playing card games that Ali knew and seemed to keep making
up the rules for! Our second connection to Carlisle was diverted through the Lake District
as the main line was closed. This took about three hours but the scenery was beautiful and
we also passed through Horton Ribblesdale, one of the places where we trained for the
Three Peaks Challenge last year. Arriving in Carlisle, we took a taxi out to Bowness-on-
Solway and finally got to our bed and breakfast after five and a half hours of travel.




      Photo 3 – Arriving at Carlisle            Photo 4 – The starting point
The bed and breakfast that we were staying at was an old converted chapel. We had the
whole place to ourselves which then left us the problem of which rooms we would have. We
eventually sorted ourselves out and went to check out the starting point of the route. This
turned out to be a wooden gazebo set in an herb garden on the bank of a river. Confident
of our start we headed to the pub for a drink and some food before I became the first one to
give in and go to bed. The rest of the team followed not long after and with our bags
already packed, an early start beckoned.

19 May – Day one, Bowness-on-Solway to Newtown
I opened the curtains to be greeted by glorious sunshine and clear skies. Rob and I took
control of the eggs that were left by the owner and creatively began to boil them as part of a
hearty breakfast. Before we knew it we were heading to the start under the weight of our
rucksacks, around 1.5 stone in weight. Looking forward with spirits high we took some
photos and started out, 84 miles still lying between us and the finish. As the morning went
on the sun continued to beam down on us and Sean enlighten us with historical facts as we
passed from place to place. It might have been the sunshine, but at one point I became
slightly unhinged and ran into a farmer’s field, climbed inside a sheep’s feeding pen, and
did my best impression of a hamster running in a wheel. Well, it kept the boys entertained!




      Photo 5 – Only 84 miles to go!            Photo 6 – Certainly one way to keep fit!

As lunch time passed by Ali and I found a tyre swinging next to a dyke. In anticipation of
disaster Sean got his camera out and as if perfectly on cue I ended up in a stream of
manure smelling water! After a quick change of clothes we were once again on the move,
making good progress on the straight Roman roads with clear blue skies. About now our
feet started to feel the punishment but we were soon to be greeted with a sign saying
Newtown. Ali was so elated to find the B&B he flung the door open and entered to be
promptly greeted by a lady stating that we did not have a reservation. She was not wrong
as Ali had just walked into her house and not an actual B&B! When the laughing had
subsided we headed to the lodgings we had actually booked that were thankfully not far
away and also very pleasant. Just like the proprietor who drove us to the pub and back.
Altogether we had completed 26 miles and after a bellyful of food and beer we fell into bed
with one thought on our mind ‘when will we actually get to see some wall’?!




      Photo 7 – Tyre swing aftermath!                  Photo 8 – A well deserved drink
20 May - Day two, Newtown to Once Brewed

We rose at 7am feeling refreshed and after a hearty breakfast we were on the road again at
8.45am pondering on the fact that Ali had insisted on a vegetarian breakfast even though
he eats meat! Rob was to be our guide for the day and our route took us through fields and
hills which encouraged Sean and Jackie’s blisters to develop nicely. As we approached
noon the temperature began to rise, the heat of the sun was beating down on us; no need
for waterproofs anymore, just sun cream.




       Photo 9 – The breathtaking countryside           Photo 10 – And you are?!

At this point we got our first sighting of the wall and began to realise how hard it must have
been to build and the grand scale of it. The ruins included mile-castles which as you can
guess, were at one mile intervals with turrets in between. As the day closed in we hit the
hardest and steepest part of the walk. Ali and Sean steamed ahead whilst Rob paced me
and listened as I expressed my dislike for walking up hills. It was at this point we reached
the highest point of the walk, 374m. We were extremely grateful to arrive at our inn where
we enjoyed a hot shower and large meal; just what the doctor ordered! Again we fell into
bed at 9.30pm knowing that tomorrow would be even harder. Another 21 miles covered
today but still another 37 to go.




       Photo 11 – First glimpse of the wall             Photo 12 – Early signs of injury
21 May – Day three, Once Brewed to East Wall House

Before setting off, we had a group discussion about how realistic our plan to finish the walk
in three days was and decided we would have to have an extra day. We set off at 9am
today with another steep section of walking but just got straight into it, even with aching
limbs and sore feet. Eventually we left the hills behind us and had miles of walking over flat
fields ahead of us. After a couple of hours we crossed the point where the Pennine Way
crosses our route. This is the route that runs north to south from Scotland to England, so
we all stopped for a while and pondered whether this was perhaps a challenge for the
future?




       Photo 13 – The terrain ahead                     Photo 14 – Follow the instructions

There was only one section that we were allowed to walk on the wall so all of us took full
advantage of this. After walking over the most uneven terrain I typically managed to fall
over on the flattest piece of land. After the group had all checked I was okay they started to
take lots of photos before marching on. Some points of interest along the way included a
Roman temple and a quarry where they had tried to shape some stones. However, they
found it too difficult so just abandoned the quarry and to this day the stones still stand
there.




Photo 15 – Walking the wall                      Photo 16 – Abandoned Roman artefacts

Today ended with a long walk through a pine forest before finally arriving at East Wall
House around 7pm. We were glad to have the hardest day out of the way. There was just
one more slog left before we could reach Newcastle, family and friends.
22 May – Day four, East Wall House to Wallsend

Another early breakfast and we were on the road for 7.30am, eager to get to the end.
Today has been the coolest and cloudiest day on our epic journey so out came our full
length trousers. The walking involved a lot of road and field routes before eventually
arriving at the River Tyne.




Photo 17 – One of the scheduled stops           Photo 18 – Rob fuelling the fire

From then on we followed the river all the way to Newcastle. We did not think it would be
far but our tired legs and slow pace meant it seemed to take an age. No talking today
between us. Our final stages of this walk were really quiet with us trying to deal with our
own pain and thinking about our journey. We actually had to walk past our hotel to get to
the end and all thought how cruel a stroke of luck that was! We got so tempted to stop but
to come all this way and not finish it would have been pure madness. On reaching the end
we were greeted by our family and friends who decided to squirt us with silly string and
champagne. After the final photo it was back to our hotel for a well deserved drink and
meal.




Photo 19 – Another awe inspiring site           Photo 20 – Arriving in Newcastle
Photo 21 – The miles take their toll            Photo 22 – 84 miles later in Wallsend!


Another great challenge made even better by the great weather and wonderful support, 84
miles all done and dusted!

So far we have raised around £750 for charity but it is still not too late to donate. You can
make a donation by visiting any of the council sports centres and looking out for the
donation pots on reception. For more information about the walk contact Jackie Keeling on
01332 716620 or email jackie.keeling@derby.gov.uk

								
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